Film Review : Blowfish (河豚)

54 河豚-潘之敏.吳慷仁.jpg2011.08.05 TAIPEI TIMESBy Ho Yi

Lee Chi-yuarn strikes a fine balance between style and content in his latest romance about a woman, a man and a blowfish

Lee Chi-yuarn (李啟源) is a director who does not like to repeat himself. His Chocolate Rap (巧克力重擊, 2006) was a motivational hip-hop movie aimed at teens. In Beautiful Crazy (亂青春, 2008), he tried to capture the fluidity of time, memory and fleeting youth with non-chronological montages and enigmatic characters.

With Blowfish (河豚), Lee finally achieves a balance between style and content. Stripped down to a few dialogues and a seemingly effortless portrayal of everyday life, the love story between two lone souls is told through acute feelings and nuanced emotions, fine performances and a well-written script that Lee co-developed with the novice but talented actress Vicci Pan (潘之敏).

The story centers on Xiao-zhun (Pan), a young woman who works as an elevator operator at a department store. Like the service industry worker she is trained to be, Xiao-zhun is quiet, compliant and even manages to keep a polite smile on her face when catching her boyfriend in bed with another woman.

Hoping to find a better home for her pet blowfish, Xiao-zhun sells it on an auction Web site. She delivers it herself and ends up having sex with the buyer (Wu Kang-jen, 吳慷仁) in his living room.

Xiao-zhun moves in with the stranger, a baseball coach in a small town who is waiting for the return of his wife, Flora (Angel Yao, 姚安琪), who has run away with another man. When the coach goes to work, Xiao-zhun likes to try on the colorful dresses that belong to Flora. She seems to enjoy her new life, even if she has to play the role of another woman.

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